2ndlook

The Trio – Alexander, Sangala and Jan Zizka

Posted in European History, India, politics by Anuraag Sanghi on January 21, 2009

 

Alexander’s retreating  armies saw a new way of chariot fighting at Sangala Battle as did Vatican – 1700 years later.

Roma-Gypsy Family With Varda Wagon & Bender Tents at Barnhurst, 1902. From the Boswell Collection.

Roma-Gypsy Family With Varda Wagon & Bender Tents at Barnhurst, 1902. From the Boswell Collection.

The barbarians came forth to fight with chariots lashed together, some of them were equipped with spears, others with lances, and they would jump nimbly from chariot to chariot whenever they wished to aid comrades, who were under pressure (from The History of Alexander, By Quintus Curtius Rufus, John Yardley, Waldemar Heckel)

From Alexander to Zizka

Now this is very interesting.

Some 1700 years later, during the Hussite wars, the Moravian armies under Jan Zizka, routed the combined armies of Prussia, Austria and various Catholic countries, commandeered by the Vatican. It was the Hussite Wars that started off the Reformation and Renaissance in Europe, from Moravia – now a part of modern Czechoslovakia.

The Taborites, one of the two factions (along with the Utraquists or the Calixtines) formed a front under Jan Zizka to take on the might of the Vatican. Zizka’s armies were made up by two factions – The Utraquists and the Taborites.

Zizka used a similar tactics – like what retreating armies of Alexander saw at Sangala. It was the Taborite use of wagons in war that was revolutionary in Europe – and the blind general, Jan Zizka defeated the combined armies of European Superpowers of his time. The Taborites used Wagenbergs, (fortified wagons).

Roma Gypsy wagon - Picture from UK c. 1910 (Bexley Local Studies and Archives Centre of Gypsies).

Roma Gypsy wagon – Picture from UK c. 1910 (Bexley Local Studies and Archives Centre of Gypsies).

Who were the Taborites? Moravians living in Tabors, were named Taborites – and a mountain on which they lived, was also known as the Tabor mountain. And what does Tabor mean?

Tabor, in various Eastern European languages meaning camp, tribe, community. In English Tabor means a drum – which comes from the drums used by the Taborites. Jan Zizka’s dying wish was that the combined Hussite armies would use his skin on a drum to lead the Czech armies against the Vatican.

Trust, Betrayal …

How did the alliance break?

The Utraquists, made a deal with the Vatican, called the “Compactata of Basle” (1433) – and betrayed the Taborites. The combined forces of the Utraquists and the Vatican waged war against the Taborites. This massacre called the Battle of Lipan /Lipany, on May 30th, 1434, ended the Taborite faction. Thousands were locked inside barns and huts – and burnt to death. And that was the end of the Hussite Wars and the challenge to the Church. But it broke the military might of the Church also.

Similarly, Jan Hus had earlier been invited to a meeting – was captured and burnt at the stake, under false promises. The Taborites on the other were different. When Aeneas Sylvius Piccolomini (later Pope Pius II) sought shelter with the Taborites, he was welcomed openly and warmly.

Interestingly, a 100 years later, the European persecution of the Roma Gypsies began in full earnest. And during WW2, the Vatican joined with the Nazi collaborators, the Ustashe,  to extort gold and the genocide against the Roma Gyspises.

Roma Gypsy wagon-houses at Tarnow Muzeum, Poland  |  Click for image.

Roma Gypsy wagon-houses at Tarnow Muzeum, Poland | Click for image.

Coming back …

Who were the major users of the wagons in Europe then (and now?) Answer – The Roma Gypsies.

Who were the people who could pose spiritual and ecclesiastical questions to the Vatican? Answer – The Gypsies, with their Indian heritage, were not not new to spiritual dialectics (contests, discourse and debates). For instance, Mani, and his adherents, an Indic teacher of Buddhist thought, known to Christians as Manichean thought, were the nightmare for Christianity till the 15th century. When Mani called for overthrow of slavery, the Vatican at the Council of Gangra, re-affirmed its faith in slavery. European minds were occupied with the questions raised by the Hussite reformers.

Some think they (the Waldensians) had held them for centuries; some think they had learned them recently from the Taborites. If scholars insist on this latter view, we are forced back on the further question: Where did the Taborites get their advanced opinions? If the Taborites taught the Waldenses, who taught the Taborites?

Who were the people who could help the persecuted Waldensians, the Bogomils, the Cathars to escape persecution and spread out across the Europe? Answer – The Roma Gypsies – in their wagons. The same Gypsies, had earlier pioneered the Troubadour culture in the Provence Region, which provoked the Albigensian Crusade by the Vatican.

Prokop Coat Of Arms

Prokop Coat Of Arms

And who was the King of the Taborites? Answer – An entire clan of leaders who called themselves as Prokop (The Shaven /Bald; The Little and The Great) were the military leaders of the Taborites.

The word and name Prokop have no meaning in any European language – except in Sanskrit, where it means vengeance, retribution, violent justice. But, this did not stop the cultural dacoity – and the name was  Hellenized to Procopius.

And where do the Roma Gypsies come from? Answer – India, where at the Battle of Sangala, 1700 years ago, Alexander’s retreating  armies, saw a new way of fighting from chariots- which the Vatican saw 1700 years later, again!

The Gypsy secret weapon

And gunpowder was the secret weapon that the Taborite Gypsy armies of Jan Zizka used, mounted on top of the wagons that cut enemy troops to size?

Gunpowder. And Gypsies?

At the end of the 19th century, this was still known. And an extract from that books goes onto trace the introduction of gunpowder to Europe.

Now, Mons is the capital of Hainault ; and the first people known to have used firearms in England were the Hainaulters. “In 1327 the English employed some Hainaulters, who used cannon for King Edward III against the Scotch.” Do these facts not suggest very strongly that the artillerymen among the Hainaulters were procured from one or other of the ” quartiers des Sarrazins ” of that province ? The connection between Edward III and Hainault was very close, for in the year following the arrival of the gunpowder-using Hainaulters, he married Philippa of Hainault. And, since he imported artillerymen from Hainault, it is quite likely that those “foreign traders,” who came to St. Giles’ Fair. Winchester, during his reign, selling ” brazen vessels of all kinds,” were really from Dinant, near Namur, as has been suggested. These people are cited by Mr. Groome {Gypsy Lore Journal, i. 50), as possible Gypsies ; if one grants that there were Gypsies in Belgium in the fourteenth century. For, of course, both of these suggestions are based upon that assumption. (from Journal of the Gypsy Lore Society by FRANZ VON MIKLOSICH).

But do Gypsies and war ever mix?

They have often been employed in military expeditions, but never as regular soldiers. In the Thirty Years’ War the Swedes had a body of them in the army ;  and the Danes had three companies of them at the siege of Hamburg, in 1686. They were chiefly employed in flying parties, to burn, plunder, or lay waste the enemy’s country. In two Hungarian regiments nearly every eighth man is a Gypsy. ((from Journal of the Gypsy Lore Society by FRANZ VON MIKLOSICH).


Forgotten Indian Diaspora In Europe – 1000 years ago

Posted in Current Affairs, Desert Bloc, European History, History, India, politics by Anuraag Sanghi on December 7, 2007

Europe, a democratic, liberal, society that has great respect for individualism, has been persecuting the Roma Gypsy for 500 years – because they are different.

Renaissance and Enlightenment

In Europe, kidnapping children was considered legal for most of 1500AD-1750AD. On one condition – you had to kidnap Roma Gypsy children! More than 25,000 children kidnapped. No problem. Everybody sleeps peacefully at night. Switzerland was doing this till 1973!

Prof. Dr. Ian Hancock, University of Texas, Austin, USA, a pioneering researcher of the Roma

Prof. Dr. Ian Hancock, University of Texas, Austin, USA, a pioneering researcher of the Roma

Roughly, between 1500 to 1750, it was legal in Europe to hunt human beings. Yes! Just like hunting for deer in India, or hunting buffalo in Africa or fox-hunting in Britain. Yes! You could hunt human beings. As long as the humans you hunted were Roma Gypsies.

In Europe you could be hung to death if you committed the crime of being born – between 1500AD-1750AD! Born as a Roma Gypsy!

Europeans, in the their age of Enlightenment and Renaissance, (1500-1750) could just pick up human slaves – yes, own them like cattle and furniture, if you found one! As long as they were Roma Gypsies. Later you could also sell them for profit!

Ship owners and captains in Europe’s Golden age, (1500-1750) could arrange galley slaves for free. No wages, no salary. You just had to feed them. Use them, abuse them, flog them, kill them, drown them. You could do anything – as long as they were Roma Gypsies.

What set off this Europe-wide persecution of the Roma Gypsies? It was their opposition to the tyranny of the Vatican, where Gypsy Taborites joined with Utraquists under Jan Zizka during the Hussite Wars, that set off this persecution. Interestingly, a 100 years later, the European persecution of the Roma Gypsies began in full earnest. And during WW2, the Vatican joined with the Nazi collaborators, the Ustashe,  to extort gold and the genocide against the Roma Gyspises.

Roma Gypsy Wagon Caravan

Gypsy Wagons (?) which formed the Wagenbergs in the Hussite Wars

Subsequent ‘reformers’, like Martin Luther, earned his spurs from the kings and the Vatican, espousing the anti-semitism and anti-‘Gypsy’ writings. Martin Luther wrote in

1543 that Jews be placed ‘in a stable like the Zigeuner [Gypsies] so that they learn that they are not masters in our land’ (from Borders and travellers in early modern Europe By Thomas Betteridge Page 97)

The principle of ‘Cuius regio, eius religio’ (meaning whose land, his religion; CRER) – the ruler decided his people’s religion, was used to settle Europe post Hussite Wars and the ‘Reformation’, establishing the CRER principle to settle Germany, giving rise to the logic of ‘ubi unus dominus, ibi una sit religio’ (One ruler, one religion). Just in case someone had religious disagreement, the logic was they could well emigrate – (ius emigrandi). The target of these laws, principles and writings – the Jews and the Roma-Gypsies.

20th Century Europe

Hitler’s Germany killed 60 lakh Jews in various concentration camps – a broadly accepted figure. Other figures range between 50,00,000-1,00,00,000. This is today estimated at about 50% of the Jewish population.

These concentration camps (first used by Spaniards in Cuba) were discovered by Allied troops as they drove back German troops. All concentration camp commanders were tried at Nuremberg trials – and sentenced.

After the Wold War 2

The Jews have still not let any of the participants and accessories forget the crime. Swiss banks, the Vatican and various Nazi officials in hiding have been hunted and prosecuted. To make up for this holocaust, guilt laden post-WW2 European and American Governments, gave the Jews a country of their own – Israel. Films have been made on these concentration camps and killings. Elie Wiesel and Menachem Begin have got Nobel Prizes for post WW2 problem management.

Sharing the concentration camps with the Jews were a fringe European group – Roma Gypsies. 80% of the Romany Gypsy population – a greater percentage of Roma Gypsies died than the Jews. The world has little sympathy – and no intention of doing anything about this holocaust. One out of three in a concentration camps were Jews – the rest were Roma Gypsies and others (Jehovah’s Witnesses Spanish Republicans, and ordinary criminals). Estimates of Roma Gypsy deaths in the Nazi holocaust vary and are contradictory – between 2 lakhs to 15 lakhs. A weighted median figure seems to be 5 lakhs – and better figures are difficult as Roma Gypsies were considered unfit for inclusion as human population in various census operations.

Sixty Years Later

In war-crimes trials, Nazis attempted to justify – or differentiate – the killing of Gypsies by stating that they had been punished as criminals, not as Gypsies per se.  And they succeeded: although sufficient documents were available immediately after the war, the mass murder of Roma and Sinti was not addressed at the Nuremberg trials, and no  Gypsy witnesses were called.  To this day, just one Nazi, , Ernst-August Konig, has received a sentence specifically for crimes against Gypsies. (from Bury me standing By Isabel Fonseca).

In 1984, 40 years after the German defeat, Simon Wiesenthal wrote to Elie Wiesel about “the Gypsies had been murdered [in a proportion] similar to the Jews, about 80% of them in the area of the countries which were occupied by the Nazis”. It is now speculated that his espousal of the Gypsy cause cost him the Nobel Prize – and was meant to show Elie Wiesel in poor light. Elie Wiesel supporters claim, allegedly, he was more interested in discrediting Elie Wiesel and less bothered about Romany Gypsy deaths.Roma Gypsy Migration

After more than 40 years to acknowledge their co-victims, on 16 September 1986, as Elie Wiesel addressed a wide range of audience in his Nobel Peace Prize speech, he stated

“I confess that I feel somewhat guilty towards our Roma friends. We have not done enough to listen to your voice of anguish. We have not done enough to make other people listen to your voice of sadness. I can promise you we shall do whatever we can from now on to listen better” (Tanner 1997).

Elie Wiesel confirms that he feels only somewhat guilty and will do his best to listen – just like Europe and the world does once in a while and complete indifference rest of the time .

Who Are The Roma Gypsies

Till 1867, Roma gypsies were part of European slave population. Their crime – a different language, a different religion and they looked different. After living in Europe for 1000 years, they were considered ‘outsiders’ – and did not mix much with ‘native’ Europeans.

Macarena - Los Del RioIt is the same Roma Gypsies who have contributed to the Spanish cultural icon – Flamenco! It is the Roma-Gypsies (along with the Arabs) who brought Indian music systems to Europe – based on which the Western music system developed over the last 300-400 years. The iconic guitar is a modified Indian musical instrument – brought to Europe by the Gypsies, which the West tries ‘passing off’ as their own. But, of course, the Hittites, the Indo Aryans of the Middle East, before them had an instrument similar to the guitar. Why am I not surprised when flamenco style, Gypsy music group, Los Del Rio’s Macarena became a big hit in India. Gypsy music burst on the Western main street with Django Reinhardt’s Jazz – and the birth of modern Western music fuelled by Gypsy music traditions remains completely unacknowledged.

Hittite GuitarWhere did Roma Gypsies come from – they claimed they came from India. But no one was quite sure. Recent DNA mapping done has confirmed what they always claimed – they were from India. A Russian-Roma poet (born in Latvia) Leksa Manush, wrote a the Roma version of the Indian epic poem, Ramayana as “Ramajanam”.

What are we (Indians) doing about these “lost Indian tribe”. Sweet nothing at all!

Birth Of Western Music

Gypsy contribution to the growth of Western musical tradition has been , similarly blanked out from Western history. The spread of Gypsy populations across Europe by the 16th century coincides with the birth of Western music systems – a stripped down version of the 3000-years old Indian music structure.

Hungarian music was Gypsy music arrogated by the White Christian majority to itself – and resented the Gypsy music culture. Western military music came from gypsy music bands of Turkey, Austria and Hungary. In 1859, Franz Liszt wrote, The Gypsies And Their Music In Hungary, a 450-odd page treatise on Gypsy music – and his Hungarian Rhapsody was based on Gypsy music. The source of Franz Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody – a by product of Gypsy music, based on the famous Rákóczi March (Hungarian: Rákóczi-induló). The current and popular version of Rákóczi March, first performed and committed to paper by János Bihari, it was ‘incorporated’ by Hector Berlioz also in the ‘The Damnation of Faust.’

Verdi wrote the Il Trovatore, in 1853, a story about the clash between the White Christian Spain and a band of Gypsies. Georges Bizet’s, Carmen, another opera about the love of a Spaniard and the Gypsy, Carmen, used Gypsy music and themes considerably – apart from the story itself.

Gypsy Music Recordings

Gypsy Music Recordings

Carefully hidden is Bela Bartok’s research into ‘folk’ music and ‘inspiration’. In the true ‘cultural dacoity’ mode, Bartok (after emigrating to USA), covered his tracks and found ingenious ways to deny the Gypsy influence. After WW1, when parts of Hungary folded into the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Bartok’s access to his ‘inspiration’, the Gypsies (and their music) was also cut off, his music compositions also declined. In fact, the wax cylinders on which Bartok and Leos Janacek copied Gypsy music remain sought after items.

The Gypsies In Provence

Modern day Roma Gypsies made their first mark in Europe in Provence. The richness of the Roma Gypsy music (of India) overwhelmed the people of Southern France. They whole heartedly, assimilated the Gypsies (then known as troubadours) and their culture – warmly. 500 years later, across a bleak Europe, the French poet Voltaire, the English WB Yeats, lamented and longed for Provenceand the richness of the Provencal culture. Modern French cuisine, wine culture and tradition took root in this very area – and survived in spite of the best attempts by the Church to exterminate it in the Albigensian Crusade.

Difficult Issue?

What makes handling Roma Gypsy question difficult is a difficult history. Is perceived Roma Gypsy ‘crime’ a result of systematic deprivation of opportunity or a cause of their value system or due to centuries of persecution? Is their alleged ‘lack of professional accomplishment due to disinclination or due to barriers? Or even a disability issue – as claimed by some Europeans?

How is it that no Indian group causes the problems that Europeans accuse Roma Gypsies of? Indians in every corner of the world have prospered – but not Roma Gypsies in Europe! If white European allegations have any truth, the truth also is that Roma Gypsy character has been perverted in Europe.

Gypsy Flamenco Dance

Possibly, it is the European handling. The handling of the Meena tribe by Rajasthan’s royal rulers is illustrative. The British colonial rulers declared the Meena tribe as a “criminal” tribe (much like Europe’s treatment of Gypsies). The Meenas were among the (now) 6 crore people declared as criminals at one stroke – much like the racist administration in Europe. Or the manner in which native populations were wiped out by Anglo-Saxons in USA, Canada and Australia.

In India, Rajput rulers of Rajasthan, on the other, made these ” reputed criminals” as their treasury supervisors. The fame of the Meena treasury keepers spread all over India – while the British attempts at “Meena genocide” in India failed. The rest of India refused to participate in these pogroms – unlike the Europeans. Free India de-notified these tribes in 1952 – and Indian law makers initially refused to look at crime in a racist manner. Subsequently, they reverted back to colonial laws – and that is a tragedy.

Europeans need to do more to understand the Roma Gypsies – and provide the much deserved climate and structure for Roma Gypsies to prosper – if they care, that is.

Indian Role

If India wants an international role, other countries and peoples will judge us by how we treat our own people first. Other countries are unlikely to let India have an international role, if our (Indian) national role is indifferent and dubious. If Indian professionals want to play an international role, they must be in a position to take up international issues. If Indian media wants to be be on world stage, they must take up issues that others in the world are not taking up!

Padmashri DrW.R.Rishi

PS – I did find one lonely Indian, Daisy Grewal, who has been working at raising awareness about the Romani-Gypsy Indians.

Update – And then came some more.

There is Late Weer Rajendra Rishi, a former officer of the Indian Foreign Service, interpreter to Jawaharlal Nehru, wrote a book on the Roma Gypsies. He set up the Indian Institute Of Roma Studies at Chandigarh. He also organized two International Romani festivals in Chandigarh (in 1976 and 1983). Last heard he was struggling to permanently house the Roma collection that he built up. In 1974, he published the Multi lingual Romani Dictionary. Friend Parag Tope sent me a link to the Roma Gypsy Wikipedia.

Romani Gypsy story is a lot like India too – as put (in a moment of despair perhaps) : –

यूनान-ओ-मीस्र-ओ रूमा, सब मीट गए जहाँ से, अब तक मगर है बाक़ी, नाम ओ नीशान हमारा,
कुछ बात है के हस्ती,मीटती नहीं हमारी, सदीओं रहा है दुश्मन, दौर ऐ ज़माना हमारा

Never mind, this too shall pass.

the Germanic lands.
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